US

US defense chief: Don't seek repayment of enlistment bonuses

  • U.S. Secretary of Defence, Ash Carter, arrives for a meeting of the North Atlantic Council Defence Ministers session at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. NATO defence ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss tense relations with Russia, how to help Middle East nations combat extremism and cooperation between the military alliance and the European Union. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    U.S. Secretary of Defence, Ash Carter, arrives for a meeting of the North Atlantic Council Defence Ministers session at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. NATO defence ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss tense relations with Russia, how to help Middle East nations combat extremism and cooperation between the military alliance and the European Union. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2011 file photo, California Army National Guard soldiers watch the arrival of the body of soldier Sean Walsh, who died on Nov. 16 during a combat operation in Afghanistan, at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, Calif. Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2011 file photo, California Army National Guard soldiers watch the arrival of the body of soldier Sean Walsh, who died on Nov. 16 during a combat operation in Afghanistan, at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, Calif. Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 file photo, Robert D'Andrea, a retired Army major and Iraq war veteran, holds a frame with a photo of his team on his first deployment to Iraq in his home in Los Angeles. Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 file photo, Robert D'Andrea, a retired Army major and Iraq war veteran, holds a frame with a photo of his team on his first deployment to Iraq in his home in Los Angeles. Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has ordered the Pentagon to stop seeking repayments of enlistment bonuses given to California National Guard members who served overseas.

His decision comes in the wake of angry reaction from members of Congress who demanded he relieve the burden on the Guard members. And the White House said President Barack Obama has warned the Defense Department not to "nickel and dime" service members who were victims of fraud by overzealous recruiters.

In a statement issued during a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels, Carter said effort to collect reimbursement should stop "as soon as is practical" and will continue until a process to help the troops deal with the problem is worked out.